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Feb 25, 2013

Phoenix want attack-minded A-League coach

Whoever replaces Ricki Herbert as Wellington Phoenix coach will be tasked with delivering the attractive soccer that has been beyond the struggling club's capability this A-League season.

Herbert, 51, tendered his resignation to the board on Monday and subsequently accepted its offer of a one-year advisory role.

The end of a tenure that lasted nearly six seasons - the longest by any A-League coach - was met with surprise and some sadness when the players were told before training on Tuesday.

Chris Greenacre, who has been promoted from assistant to interim coach for the last five matches of the season, said All Whites mentor Herbert had become synonymous with the club.

"I think if he showed his CV to anyone in the world, it's one to be admired. It's up there with the top coaches in the world," Greenacre said.

"In this game, you never know what's around the corner. I may not be here tomorrow myself.

"It's so cut-throat that you often never see it coming."

Herbert's authority and future became the subject of speculation in December when co-owner Gareth Morgan outlined a desire for the Phoenix to play a more attack-minded style.

Herbert's men struggled to adapt and their results subsequently suffered. With a string of losses, some of them embarrassingly heavy, they dived out of a playoff berth to last place.

Greenacre said the team "probably could have done without" the management interjection but Phoenix general manager David Dome made no apologies, stressing the same will be asked of the club's second fulltime coach.

"The new coach will be asked to deliver a style from our new strategy that we have going forward," Dome said.

Appointed the club's inaugural coach in 2007, Herbert led the Phoenix to playoffs in each of the past three seasons.

However, they've failed to gel this season. They have won five of 22 games, and just one of nine since December, to sit six points outside a playoff berth.

"The results this year have not been what anyone would have wanted and I felt that it was time for someone else to take a fresh look at things at the club," Herbert said in a statement.

He wasn't available to speak to reporters, leaving Dome to explain the apparently sudden change of tune from a coach who was bullish after their 2-2 home draw with Adelaide on Sunday.

"I think Ricki certainly felt the pressure of results over the last couple of weeks and he's wanted to concentrate on the All Whites' campaign," Dome said.

"There wasn't any indication it was coming but he's a very honourable man. He's done what he thinks is the right thing for the club."

Dome said the replacement process will begin this week and the net cast around Australasia and beyond.

"We'll go wide - we'll see what's available. The A-League is an attractive place - it's a great lifestyle in this part of the world.

"We get coach applications all the time. I think (finding a replacement) will be relatively easy."

Herbert's next coaching assignment is preparing the All Whites for an important World Cup qualifying match against New Caledonia in Dunedin on March 22.

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